Ukrinform discovered why there is still no money to perform national PCR tests that determine the pathogen COVID-19 with an accuracy of 99.9%
Ukrainian scientists are ready to provide the country with test systems now. The Institute of Molecular Biology and Genetics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (IMBG) has stated that it is ready, with appropriate funding, to produce up to 20,000 PCR-based test systems ( quantitative polymerase reaction) weekly – these are the tests that almost unequivocally determine the presence of the causative agent COVID-19 in the human body. In late January 2020, on the orders of the National Security and Defense Council, scientists from the IMBG were the first in Ukraine to develop such test systems. Their certification confirmed an accuracy of 99.9%. The cost of a reaction in the Ukrainian test is 250 UAH, while foreign analogs cost between 370 and 450 UAH. For Ukrainian doctors to have sufficiently reliable and inexpensive tests, Ukrainian scientists need only a few million hryvnia. However, there is still no funds. It turns out that the budget program, providing the appropriate funding, fell for one reason or another on the 2020 budget sequestration project, which is currently “shaken” in BP committees.
Amateurs save the country?
Institute statement published recently on Facebook says specialists at the Institute for Molecular Biology and Genetics are expecting state budget funds to come soon in order to continue work on producing PCR tests to detect coronaviruses. Scientists have successfully completed approximately 1,000 tests using available resources. Of these, 600 have already been transferred to the Zhytomyr Regional Laboratory Center of the Ministry of Health and 100 to the Public Health Center of the Ministry of Health in Kiev, 400 more await their recipients. The State compensated 350,000 UAH for their manufacture. The government has promised to provide money for the next production. Therefore, scientists are waiting.
“We hope that despite forced budget cuts in many sectors, including science, the funding of such an important endeavor as the production of PCR tests will not be reduced and will arrive as soon as possible. On the material available at the Institute, our experts can produce around 10-20,000 PCR tests per week. And with the participation of additional specialists, the Institute is able to produce up to 50,000 tests per week, “according to the report.
The Institute noted that the main group of employees involved in the project are now working and are ready to work overtime. However, in the absence of funding for the budgetary program “Support for the development of priority areas for scientific research” (code 6541230), the institution cannot deploy work on the production of full-capacity test systems.
When it became known that due to quarantine and lack of salary funds, Institute employees were sent home on vacation at their own expense, a scandal broke out and salary funds were raised. been allocated urgently. As Ukrinform was informed at the Institute, on April 1, its employees left the holidays. During the holidays, only the employees who finalized the tests worked and the biologists who needed to maintain a continuous process – live cultures.
“If the funds were available, the Institute could now implement agreements with the reagent manufacturers we use to manufacture test systems. Not all reagents can be manufactured by a national manufacturer, we must order some in Estonia, Germany and other countries. Despite this supply chain, the cost of our PCR tests is almost half that of our foreign counterparts, “the statement said.
Only employees who performed tests worked on vacation
In addition, the institution stressed that the virus is actively mutating. Therefore, in the fall, new testing systems will likely be required. And it is precisely the know-how of the scientists of the Institute that literally allows for one day to modify the test of another strain of coronavirus.
The price of the question of national importance is only a few million hryvnia
According to experts from the Institute, Ukraine needs up to two million test systems to identify patients in order to locate the epidemic of coronavirus. “I am not an epidemiologist, but I think a million or two million test systems are needed for Ukraine, if we are to locate a pandemic, we must periodically test people who have already recovered,” said its director Mikhail Tukalo during a briefing at the Institute. “If we have to do as many test systems, then it’s also realistic, we already have an agreement with at least two national pharmaceutical companies that will help in the last stage of production where packaging is needed.”
According to Mikhail Tukalo, the developers are asking for 2.5 million to be able to perform 10,000 additional tests. “They will give more money – we will do even more. In a week, we can do 10 to 20,000 test systems. So that only the Ministry of Health has enough special equipment and laboratory staff where the systems will be used, ”says Tukalo.
Scientists have provided all necessary letters and calculations regarding the potential production of test systems to the Ministry of Finance. “The Ministry of Finance asked us to give calculations for 10, 20 and 50,000 tests separately (it is 2.5, 5 or 10 million UAH. – Aut). Such calculations were provided on March 29, “said deputy director Sergei Dzyadevich in a comment to Ukrinform.
But there is a great risk that the Institute will not wait for money …
Bureaucracy on the Move
Ukrinform’s own sources in the scientific community said that the State Treasury Service of Ukraine on April 1, 2020, by telephone, informed the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine of the opening of the NAS allocation of Ukraine for secure expenditure for April 2020 in the amount of 310.2 million UAH for all budgetary programs. At the same time, the Treasury, referring to the letter from the Ministry of Finance dated 30.03.2020 n ° 04130-19-5 / 9566, indicated to the National Academy of Sciences for the budgetary program bearing the budget code 6541230 that appropriations were not to be distributed or sent to the Treasury, as Bill 3279 “О amending the Ukrainian law“ on the Ukrainian state budget for 2020 ”provides for a reduction in budget allocations for this budget program by 300 million UAH.
In other words, the money for priority research was agreed, but since funding had to be cut off during sequestration, they are not allowed to be used, although the law on sequestration does not yet exist.
In other words, the bureaucratic machine is now ahead of the curve. The corresponding bill has not yet been passed, however, the state is already refusing to cover the costs of items falling under the bill under the reduction. If so, then the situation is extremely unacceptable.
The government bill No. 3279 on the sequestration of the budget, currently being finalized by the commissions of the Verkhovna Rada, provides for an almost complete reduction (from 351.3 million UAH to 51.3 million UAH) costs of the budget program 6541230 “Support the development of priority areas of scientific research” of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, as well as a complete reduction of 400 million UAH. expenditure of the budget program 2201390 “Support for priority areas of scientific research and scientific and technical (experimental) developments in higher education establishments”, a significant reduction (from 525.5 million UAH to 300 million UAH ) expenditure from the budget program 2201300 “Support from the National Research Fund, grant support for scientific research and scientific and technical (experimental) developments.
“Understanding the importance of mobilizing the country’s resources to combat the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, we nevertheless believe that such a reduction will lead to a significant deterioration of the situation in the Ukrainian scientific field and is therefore unacceptable. The three budgetary programs mentioned above constitute an essential component of the reform undertaken in the scientific field of Ukraine, and the budgetary program 6541230 is, in fact, an integral part of the basic financing of the SIN of Ukraine, because without these funds, it is impossible to ensure a hundred percent salary for all scientists, ” said the scientist. Committee of the National Council of Ukraine on the development of science and technology for deputies and state leadership.
The committee recalls: a recent case with very negative media resonance, when employees of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Genetics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (the institute responsible for the president to ensure the production of national tests for the coronavirus) were forced to go on vacation at their own expense, was caused by the inability to pay on time according to budget program 6541230. The almost complete reduction of this area of funding programs a number of similar conflicts in the near future, “s.
The know-how of the scientists of the Institute literally allows one day to modify the test of another strain of coronavirus
They still have a few days to convince MEPs to leave the funds necessary for priority scientific developments in the budget, which also includes the development of systems for testing coronaviruses. Preparations for the second first reading of the sequestration bill are carried out according to the abridged procedure (5 days), it is therefore expected that on the following Saturday-Sunday, but no later than Monday 6 April, the Verkhovna Rada may be reunite for an extraordinary meeting. And rumors have it that the BP budget committee insists on “cutting” scientific costs.
Not a single budget
The logic of the deputies who today consider it necessary to “reduce” the costs of science (and it is rumored that they are representatives of the budget committee of the Verkhovna Rada – Author) is difficult to understand. If the goal of sequestration is to free up as much money as possible to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, then how can organizations and specialists capable of proposing an effective solution to this fight leave it without money? Especially when it’s not so much money. What is 3-5 million UAH against the tens of billions that should be accumulated by sequestration? A drop in the sea!
In the end, in order to speed up the launch of mass production of PCR test systems, which are extremely necessary today, one could connect the reserve fund of the Cabinet of Ministers. Is this not the case when procrastination with the financing of death is similar?
The situation is so critical that, while the state is slow, citizens, philanthropists and businesses are ready to take on the financing of the test systems production program themselves. “Representatives of private capital who would like to finance our production call every hour, but we are waiting for money from the budget, because we are faced with a state task. I am afraid that private capital will buy our systems and take them abroad, where they cost more, ”said Mikhail Tukalo, Director of IMBG.
Here, the fears of the head of the state structure cannot be understood. In the market for medical protective equipment, especially disposable surgical masks, this has recently happened. Due to the activity of speculators who bought almost all the volumes of goods available from manufacturers and exported them abroad, the masks disappeared from national pharmacies and increased their prices indecently.
For example, a public-private partnership (PPP) option would prevent a similar scenario with test systems. This is provided for by national legislation in the field of health care. As you know, some profitable PPP projects can serve as a source of new financial resources because of the distribution of benefits between a private partner and the institutions, the authorities. Thus, the project can be implemented without creating a budgetary burden. After all, nothing prevents the establishment of monitoring and control that would make it impossible to abuse the resources of the State in such a partnership.
In other words, there is a way out, you just want to find it.
Oksana Polishchuk, Kiev
According to the materials: ukrinform.ru